Destiny 2 Beta Observation: We’re Weak!

I played the Destiny 2 Beta a bit more last night and my observation is that we Guardians are weaker than we were in Destiny. Our guns are weaker, our abilities are less powerful, and our grenades are downright paltry.

I created a Hunter last night and played with both the Arcstrider and Gunslinger abilities. Both are good, and the Hunter was indeed more agile and able to avoid (or get into) trouble than the Warlock and Titan I created the night before. It was when I used the Golden Gun super ability that I realized that we’ve been nerfed. It used to be that Golden Gun would kill any red bar enemy. Well, I shot and hit a Cabal Gladiator (which are admittedly pretty tough) and needed a second shot to finish him off. Then I started playing with grenades. It used to be, if you lobbed a grenade into a mob of red-bar enemies, some would die. Now, they all get hurt some, but fewer or none die outright. Sure, it varies by grenade type, but they sure seem weaker.

I think this is a strategy by Bungie – they’ve said they want to make the game harder, and by weakening us, that’s one way to do it.

I enjoyed playing the Destiny 2 beta, but it doesn’t seem to be holding as much interest as I thought it would. After dinner last night, I created my Hunter, then did the first mission and the strike. When I started, almost my entire PSN friends list was playing Destiny 2 beta. When I was done, I was the only one. Most of the others were still logged into PSN, but were playing other games, including the original Destiny. I will likely play some more Destiny 2 beta Crucible before the beta ends, but the limited content makes it not overly compelling to play for too long.

Destiny 2 Beta guns and abilities – different, but good

Having only played the Destiny 2 beta for a couple of hours last night, I found that I like the changes that I saw to guns and abilities, and for the few that I didn’t like, I can live with them.

Guns

There are still 3 gun slots, and 3 ammo types, just as before. The top gun slot is for kinetic damage primaries, essentially as before, but some new types are added, including SMGs (which are terrible, at least the ones I have). The second slot is also for primary-type weapons, but these have burn damage (solar, arc, void). So auto-rifles and hand cannons with burns are common now, and green ammo is plentiful and you can carry a lot. The third slot is for your big guns, which now includes shotguns, grenade launchers, fusion rifles, and rocket launchers, all of which use purple ammo. Since purple ammo is hard to come by in the Crucible, we won’t be having lots of shotgunners, as we did in the early days of Destiny (well, until recently when they nerfed the green ammo). I have yet to see a sniper rifle, so don’t know where or if they fit in.

They’ve gotten rid of Sunsinger Warlocks, which is somewhat OK. Sure they were handy for Nightfalls and for cheesing the bridge to Crota (until they patched that), but the ability to revive was held in reserve until needed, thus Sunsingers didn’t contribute orbs to others, because we didn’t use our super ability unless we had to.

The new ability each class has is interesting. I’ve only experienced it with Titan and Warlock, but Titans can make a little shield quite often, which can be handy, while Warlocks make a healing zone, also nice. This is activated by holding the circle button on PS4, and so far, seems more useful in PVE rather than PVP. As we all get used to it, I’m sure we’ll get good at these abilities.

Overall, the changes aren’t so significant that the game feels unnatural, but they do take a little getting used to.

The Destiny 2 Beta is good, but shows an annoying mechanic

The Destiny 2 Beta performed very well for me last night, with none of the problems I saw on Reddit or Twitter while I was at work impatiently waiting to get home to play. I didn’t get disconnected once, and all the activities provided worked just fine. Since I’m on PS4 and preordered, the beta opened up for me yesterday. I hope the Xbox One players that can start today have a similarly good experience.

The first character I created was a Titan, and I played both Sentinel and Striker in various activities. I also created a Warlock, and played a bit with that. I’ll make another post later about the abilities of the classes. The gameplay was very comfortable, yet new, as the gun configuration is different from Destiny 1, as are the abilities. For the most part, though, it was easy to play and felt right.

The bad news is that Bungie has figured out how to make their engine draw big moving, rotating equipment, and they love using it. In both the mission and the strike, they have huge rotating machines that are meant to be puzzles, but they’re just annoying. In the mission, the rotating cooling rods are insta-death, while the strike has huge rock crushing arms that are just as good at crushing Guardians. While they don’t insta-kill, they do stun and are tricky to avoid. In any case, I still don’t know how to get to the strike’s final boss, because I was busy with the puzzle and got pulled along. So this does not bode well if they’re going to over-use this new, annoying mechanic.

Very Disappointed with PSN’s Pre-loading of GTA V on PS4

I pre-ordered Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4 for via the PlayStation Store weeks ago with the promise that it would pre-load on my machine. Well, that didn’t actually happen. Though I’d had my PS4 in “rest” mode (which means it is wasting only 100 watts of power ALL THE TIME) all weekend, no preload started. I checked the PSN store’s download queue yesterday morning and saw that GTA V was queued, so I called my wife to have her wake the PS4 and then put it back into rest mode in the hopes that it would start the download. It did download the Destiny update, but didn’t touch GTA V.

When I got home last night, I checked that GTA V wasn’t loaded, so I chose to manually download it. Well , that looked like it worked, but it only pulled down about 2GB worth of program and update file then declared it was done. The machine was in rest mode for a couple hours then I used it to play Destiny, so there was plenty of time to download at least a fair chunk of the nearly 50GB download.

Then, just before bed, I launched GTA V, which them promptly declared that it was only 7% downloaded and installed and that I should just leave the machine on and walk away. Well that’s BS of huge magnitude! So much for the vaunted pre-loading. Instead, the damn game wanted to download itself on my time! Screw that! So I put the PS4 back in rest mode, and if the game is written at all well, the download will have continued. I didn’t check it this morning to know whether I’d been thwarted again, because I had to get to work, but I am very disappointed in the way this pre-load failed so miserably.

Still no plans to buy Destiny

I participated in the Destiny Alpha and Beta events on PS4 and thought the game was highly polished and fun. But I’m not going to pre-order it, nor will I likely buy it anytime soon.

First, as I commented earlier, there are some real problems in Destiny, including the emphasis on multiplayer teams that hinder exploration, as well as the sameness of the gameplay on the Moon (and presumably Mars), which have lower gravity and should have very different game mechanics. These could possibly be forgiven, because the action was indeed really great and the game looked and felt very good.

The next issue of concern is the amount of content in the game. It sounds like the only battleground on Earth is the one we’ve already played. Then the Moon will likely have a fair bit of content, probably. And Mars. There will be something on Mars. Venus is the multiplayer arena called the Crucible, but it doesn’t seem there will be any story missions there. So this doesn’t seem like a lot of content for a $60 game, and, of course, Bungie would like us to buy expansion packs for $35 (or a bit less if you buy one of the bundles). So seemingly not a lot of content, and we must pay for more. Sounds like a bad deal to me. Hey, but it has replay value! Maybe, but not as much as Diablo III that I’m playing now.

Finally, the game reviewing press won’t get access until the day before release day, so we probably won’t know anything about the length of the game or if the more advanced areas are expansive and good. It is possible that the folks at Bungie are feverishly working on server code right now and it won’t be ready until the day before release, but it is also possible that they don’t want reviewers crapping all over their launch and are withholding access until it is too late. That seems more likely, given how well the Alpha and Beta went. So that’s not a vote of confidence.

In short, Destiny seems like it may not be a good value, uses lousy physics and gameplay mechanics on other planets, and you’ll be stuck racing though areas to catch up with people you may or may not know, rather than exploring at your own pace. So I can’t see spending $60 or even $90 or $100 on it with all these doubts.

Enjoyed Destiny Beta, but the Moon mission blew it!

I played the Destiny Beta on PS4 both solo and with friends and had quite a blast. My initial thought was that while I enjoyed the game, I wasn’t excited to buy it, because the co-op missions were a little too fast paced. What I mean is that as we would clear an area, members of the team quickly moved on, so I had to follow. I would have preferred to explore at my own pace, rather than be dragged from fight to fight. I felt the same way in the Isengard 3-man instances in LOTRO – it was all just running between fights.

Then I played more games with friends and really enjoyed the interaction and the team play, so I was considering buying the game. In fact, I was convinced I would buy it and was even scoping out the GameStop version so I could get their pre-order exclusive. And I would get the $90 package instead of the $60 one, because it included the expansions that would cost $35 separately.

Then, on Saturday at 2PM, during the server load test, they opened up the first Moon mission. I flew to the Moon, excited to see how the low gravity and no atmosphere would affect gameplay. It didn’t! The gravity was the same as Earth’s, so I couldn’t jump super far. And the roars of the baddies and gunfire and all the other sounds carried perfectly through what should be a nonexistent atmosphere. So the gameplay was exactly like on Earth, but with different scenery. I was and still am floored at this kind of mailing it in. Surely Bungie knows about the physical characteristics of the Moon, but didn’t want to take that into account for the game.

Admittedly, this was a Beta test, so this could change before launch, but it certainly felt reasonably polished. If they were going to change the physics on the Moon, you’d think they’d want to have tested it to see how people compensated.

So now my interest in buying the game has waned again, mostly because of the moon, but also because I’m hearing speculation that the game will contain not too much content. I can see that the game has lots of potential, but I’m not going to make a $90 bet on that potential.

We are not the chosen one! Why I like the narrative of #LOTRO and #STO

Ars Technica has a very interesting commentary on The Elder Scrolls Online, an upcoming MMO set in the Elder Scrolls universe, like Oblivion and Skyrim. One of the points I found most interesting was that the game uses the old “you are the chosen one” story line, which is a little odd, given that there are thousands of said chosen ones playing an MMO. (Paraphrasing from the article)

This is one of the reasons I like the Lord of the Rings Online so much. I am not the chosen one in LOTRO. Frodo is the Ringbearer, and Aragorn is the King, and I’m just helping out. Same with Star Trek Online: There are thousands of us Captains, and we’re helping the Federation, or the Klingon Empire, or the Romulan Republic (funny how my spellchecker knows “Klingon” but doesn’t know “Romulan” – must be weak Star Trek fans making the word lists), but we won’t rule them or otherwise change the leadership, for example.

I don’t mind being the chosen one in single player games, so I enjoyed Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind, but in an MMO, it does seem a bit much. We are not the chosen ones, dammit, so make games where cooperation and heroism can work together!

Enjoying Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

When last I wrote, I had just finished inFamous. Since then, I finished Dungeon Siege 3 and enjoyed it. If you can get it for a good price, I recommend it, but don’t pick the gun girl unless you want a big challenge.

A friend loaned me inFamous 2, but it didn’t grab me as much as the first one. Everything is more polished than the original, but somehow, it doesn’t seem as fresh and fun. But, everything I’ve read says the 2nd one is better than the first, so surely I will get into it.

I picked up Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning from Amazon for something like $16, and have really been enjoying it. The game is an Action RPG, so the combat is fast and fun. The skill tree is split into Might (melee stuff), Finesse (daggers and archery), and Sorcery (staffs and magic), and it is possible to level in all three trees, though it seems to make sense to concentrate on one, at least at the start. Weapon types include longswords, greatswords, hammers, daggers, staffs, bows, scepters (ranged magic weapons), and chakrams (fast medium range magic), and you can use any of them, though you need bonuses from the skill trees to use them well.

The plot of the game is, so far, not as compelling as Skyrim’s or Oblivion’s, but both the main quest line and side quests are usually bite-size chunks, which makes them quick and fun. So far, my character hasn’t died, though I’ve come close. The level matching is very smooth. In the starting area, killing wolves was easy, but now they have rogue-like fast attacks that make them a serious challenge. There’s no grinding required, so just doing the quests is good fun!

Other good points include useful maps, including the mini-maps, and an excellent fast-travel system. There are some bugs in a couple of quests, and my quest text is no longer showing up in the list. It’s a shame 38 Studios shutdown. The game is good and, apparently, sold well, so it’s disappointing that they aren’t around to make more good games and to support this one.

Upcoming, of course, is Borderlands 2. I loved the original, except for the lame ending, so I hope the sequel is as good or better. The co-op mode sounds fun, if I can convince any of my friends to buy it. I bought a new NVIDIA card (yes, I swore them off because they kept failing, but this was a good deal), and it included a coupon for Borderlands 2. At least I don’t have to pay the confiscatory $60 being charged right now, which sets a bad precedent for PC games!

Witcher 2 on sale at Amazon Downloads

I just picked up Witcher 2 for $16 at Amazon for download. This is by far the lowest priced I’ve seen for a game that I am really looking forward to playing.

Take a look at ggamdori’s Uncharted 3 beta multiplayer movies

My friend ggamdori has posted a number of movies showing the Uncharted 3 beta multiplayer game features.

Take a look at his YouTube page. I will link to one of his popular videos below, but take a look at all of them!

Uncharted 3 looks like good fun!